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Adinkra-Inspired Pillows Lesson Plan

Multicultural Lesson Plans

Students will repeat a design with handmade stamps. They will learn about traditional African fabric design, dyeing and decorative stitching. Rather than copy a traditional art form from another culture, students will be inspired by their symbols and techniques and apply those to their own images to make the work personally significant.

Adinkra cloth from Ghana, West Africa, contains symbols that are stamped on the fabric with black dye made from the bark of a badie tree. The stamps have meanings, giving the garment not only a beautiful design, but also a message. These were usually worn for special occasions, such as funerals, and are made from long strips, divided into squares and stamped with designs carved from Calabash. The strips are sewn together with colorful yarn.


Grade Levels




  1. Look at various examples of weaving and fiber arts from Africa and discuss the meaning and making of traditional Adinkra cloth design symbols. Consider the possibilities of designing symbols that are personally significant.
  2. Make the designs from stamping rubber attatched on wood or cardboard blocks. Sketch a page of examples of simple designs. Choose 3 that are related to one another.
  3. Draw or trace 3 small designs on stamp rubber. Cut with scissors. Glue to blocks. These designs should be about 3" x 3".
  4. Cut 3 strips of muslin 24" x 6". Choose colors for the stamps that will coordinate with one another and the dye.
  5. Brush acrylic paint on the stamps or use a small brayer. Stamp the designs the length of the fabric. Dry and iron.
  6. Dye each strip in cold water dye. They may all be the same or all different colors.
  7. Sew the strips together using a traditional Adinkra stitch. This is also called a baseball stitch. Lay each piece next to one another and sew up on each side, weaving under the cloth from side to side. Taping or pinning the cloth together as you sew will help keep it in place.
  8. Fold the pillow over and whip stitch around the edges of 3 sides. Stuff loosely with fiberfill and sew the remaining side.


Adinkra-Inspired Pillows




acrylic or fabric paints




stamp rubber, wood blocks

newsprint, pencils

sharp tapestry needles

cold water dyes



Art from Many Hands by Jo Miles Schuman



submitted by Gail T. Krug
Grand Haven High School
Grand Haven, MI

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